Alfred Street Baptist Church, established in 1803, is home to the oldest and largest African American congregation in Alexandria, VA, their ministry touches the lives of people throughout the Greater Washington Region. With more than 10,000 members, the church has served as a prominent religious, educational and cultural organization in the Northern Virginia community. For over 200 years, Alfred Street has been a leader among churches and has made significant contributions in education, missions, children ministries, and the advancement of women.
The Alfred Street Baptist Church initiative, Tithe the Tithe, has donated over $750,000 to date and expects to surpass $1,000,000 this September to charities serving a broad spectrum of society’s most at-risk populations including victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse, health organizations dedicated to working with the underserved, meals programs and youth programs. These monies are collected from the parishioners and charities are selected by committee.
On July 11th, 2020 the committee chose to give gifts to re-entry and restoration programs, recognizing the reality that men and women of color who are leaving prison and returning to society are oftentimes doing so without a plan or resources to meet their basic needs of food, clothing and shelter.
“The Alfred Street Baptist Church has a charge to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give shelter to those in need,” remarked Deacon Lisa Grant as she presented the gifts during the July 11th online service.
Five gifts of $10,000 each were presented to second chance organizations including:
- Restoration Praise Ministries Re-entry Program, Hyattsville, MD;
- O.A.R., Fairfax, VA;
- Thrive DC Re-entry Program, Washington, DC;
- Bridging the Gap, Richmond, VA; and
- Friends of Guest House, Alexandria, VA.
When asked why second chance programs were chosen, Reverend Dr. Howard-John Wesley responded, “It aligns with our mission – how we treat those who have paid their price and are re-entering is the truest expression of our faith. We take Matthew 25 very seriously here. The gospel tells us that whether or not you were incarcerated for your offense, everyone deserves a second chance.”
Kari Galloway, Executive Director of Friends of Guest House, has experienced first-hand the transformative effect the women of Guest House experience when they discover that people who have never met them are here to support them through their donations of time, money, and goods. “When our women are greeted by a volunteer teacher here to help them with their computer proficiency, spend time with their mentor exploring job opportunities, or are able to find items in our clothing closet donated by community members to wear day to day or to job interviews; their spirits are bolstered knowing they have the support of their community whether it be seen or unseen.”
Many of the women who have participated in the Friends of Guest House program are also members of the Alfred Street Baptist Church. The message of Reverend Dr. Howard-John Wesley speaks to inspire all of them, “Despite whatever stereotype you face or negativity you hear, there are people and organizations that believe in you. Listen to the voices that support you moving forward and making a positive contribution to your family and your community. There are people who are not going to limit you by your past, but instead who believe in your future. The 10,000 members of the Alfred Street Church believe in you.”
The gift from the Tithe the Tithe initiative will be used to purchase computers for the women at Friends of Guest House to continue their online Workforce and Development class participation, GED test preparation, as well as college classes being offered by NOVA and George Mason. In addition, women who have progressed further through the Guest House program, will have the tools and resources necessary to create resumes and cover letters, apply online for employment, and take advantage of remote work opportunities that require a personal computer.
Friends of Guest House is grateful for the gift from Alfred Street Church and all of the faith-based organizations who have supported the women and the mission of Guest House. Our sincerest appreciation to:
Alexandria Seventh-Day Adventist Church
Beth El Women of Reformed Judaism
Beverley Hills Community United Methodist Church
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church
Grace Presbyterian Church – Springfield
Little River United Church of Christ
Mount Olivet United Methodist Church
Mount Vernon Unitarian Church
Old Presbyterian Meeting House
Roberts Memorial U. M. Church
St. Mary’s Episcopal Church – Arlington
Sydenstricker United Methodist Women
Temple Rodef Shalom
Washington Farm United Methodist Women
Westminster Presbyterian Church
If you know or are a part of a faith based organization with a charitable giving program, please consider Friends of Guest House as one of your charities. We would love to talk to you about our mission, give you a safe, socially distanced introduction to our programs, and discuss the ways in which our organizations can work together to continue to transform the lives of the women we serve and the communities they touch. Please contact Marisa Tordella at firstname.lastname@example.org.